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UPDATE on storm watch: NWS: Henri shifts to the east, but officials still bracing for the worst

Update (Saturday, 8 p.m.): Hurricane Henri, located about 255 miles south of Montauk Point as of 8 p.m. Saturday, continued its trek north and remains on target to hit the East End of Long Island at or near hurricane strength, according to the latest advisory from the National Hurricane Center.

Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 45 miles from the center of the storm and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 150 miles. The storm is expected to strengthen tonight and some weakening is expected prior to landfall on Sunday.

A hurricane warning, storm surge warning and flood watch remain in effect for the entire East End.

The track of the storm shifted slightly east from earlier in the day and is now on line to cross around East Hampton Town. An earlier projection showed a line with the storm passing directly around Riverhead Town.

Rain is expected overnight and wind gusts could reach 32 mph before the tropical storm conditions begin Sunday morning.

Earlier Saturday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a state of emergency for Suffolk County among several others.

A voluntary evacuation of Ram Island and other low-lying coastal areas is requested.  A storm surge is anticipated to flood the Ram Island causeway preventing emergency access. 

Shelter Island town has issued information: Residents are encouraged to seek shelter at family or friend’s homes during the storm from early Sunday morning through Monday morning or until the storm passes.  Should this not be possible, please call 631-749-0600 to arrange for other means of sheltering.

For emergencies, call 911.

For PSEG outages, call 1-800-490-0075

For general information, call 631-749-0400 between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

For sheltering questions, call 631-749-0600.

Update (Saturday, 3 p.m.): Henri is now a Hurricane, as it continues to make its way toward Long Island.

The change in status has not altered projections from this morning with sustained winds as strong as 75 mph still projected and a life-threatening storm surge anticipated. The East End continues to appear as the most likely location for the hurricane to make landfall.

The agency said the time to complete storm preparations is now.

• Tropical storm force winds could be felt as early as 2 a.m. Sunday on Long Island, building throughout the day and into the early afternoon when the hurricane is expected to make landfall.

• PSEG-Long Island said more than 3,300 line workers and tree trimmers are being procured in advance of the storm. They are warning that restoration times could be as long as seven to 100 days and as much as two weeks if the storm ends up tracking further west causing more damage across Long Island.

Update (Saturday, 12:45 p.m.): Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said it is becoming “increasingly likely” that Tropical Storm Henri will deliver a direct hit to Suffolk County.

Mr. Bellone provided an update to the storm Saturday afternoon in Bay Shore, where he again urged residents to prepare for high winds, potential outages and flooding when the storm makes landfall as potentially a Category 1 hurricane Sunday.

“This storm is bearing down on Long Island as we speak,” he said. “And it looks like more and more specifically on Suffolk County. We don’t know what the exact track will be, but the closer we get to this storm as each hour passes, it becomes clearer that there will be a significant impact here in Suffolk County.”

The county executive issued a voluntary evacuation order for Fire Island. Riverhead High School will be one of five schools in the county opened as a shelter for anyone who needs to evacuate, Mr. Bellone said.

He said whether the storm makes landfall as a strong tropical storm or Category 1 hurricane, there will be dangerous conditions either way.

“This storm is significant and potentially dangerous,” he said, noting specifically the concern for flooding with a storm surge expected as high as 5 feet.

He said Cross Sound Ferry is operating as normal today but will be canceled tomorrow as will as the ferries to and from Fire Island. He cautioned it’s unclear when ferry service could resume if infrastructure is damaged in the storm. County bus service is also canceled Sunday. County parks east of Shirley, including Indian Island in Riverhead, are closed as of dusk Saturday.

In a statement Saturday afternoon, Michael Sullivan, the senior director of Transmission & Distribution at PSEG Long Island, said if the storm continues to strengthen and moves farther west, restoration could take up to 14 days. PSEG had already said restoration could take up to 7-10 days.

“We are prepared for hurricane force winds and are informing customers to help set expectations about the storm’s potential so that they can also prepare,” Mr. Sullivan said.